Last Updated on March 18, 2020 by Michael Brockbank
Being a freelance writer has a lot of perks. One of which is being able to make a significant amount of money in a short amount of time. However, there are a lot of variables that come into play to make money as a freelancer.
Don’t assume you can replace your full-time job immediately.
Not everyone will start writing and make tons of money. Even those with a bit of past experience in writing have to work hard at making a success of themselves. On the upside, it doesn’t take long to make money as a freelancer if you work at it.
What Do You Need to Make Money as a Freelancer?
Why do I view myself as a success? Because I am able to pay my bills, invest a little bit of cash every month and live comfortably as a freelancer. It’s my full-time job now, and I enjoy it immensely.
In today’s world, nearly anyone can become a freelance writer. It’s whether you have passion and motivation that will dictate success. Not everyone likes the idea of sitting at their desk for more than eight hours a day creating content for someone else.
There’s a lot that goes into making a good amount of money. Without these elements, you may find your payouts less than what your peers receive.
Good Customer Service Skills
Good customer service skills are necessary if you want to make an impact in the world of writing. Treating clients like gold often keeps you in work as he or she will want to work with you more often.
This is one of the most profound facets to being an excellent freelancer. I’ve seen a lot of writers and graphic designers lose out on lucrative contracts because of their attitudes.
It pays to be professional.
A Willingness to Grow
Don’t assume that you’ll know everything when first starting as a freelancer. Be willing to adapt and grow as a person and as a professional. You probably won’t start off making a lot of money, but practice makes perfect.
Spend time researching how to enhance your abilities as well as the industries for which you want to write. The more you know, the more attractive you are to clients. The end result is making a lot more money down the road.
Putting in the Effort
As a freelance writer, you’re more than likely going to be paid by production. This means to make money, you need to produce quality material quickly. Your clients have deadlines for a reason, and meeting these will improve your reputation as a professional.
Putting in the effort also means constantly driving to find more work. Don’t sit back and let clients come to you. You’ll have to do some leg-work yourself to keep busy.
Being diverse helps you land more paying contracts. For example, I started with writing computer and technology content on Textbroker. Over the months, I expanded into business, travel and even animals.
It’s OK if you only want to write a specific type of article. Just be aware you’ll miss out on contracts if you keep yourself too focused on your preferred niche.
Marketing Yourself Well
Lastly, make sure you market yourself well. You need to hit social media, writing profiles and anything else you can think of to get your name out there as a freelancer.
You need to make it easy for clients to find you. It’s safe to assume your competition is doing everything possible to take those contracts.
One of the things I did recently was to create a professional blog using my name. This site breaks down the major things I am a part of online.
So when someone asks what I do, I can direct them to MichaelBrockbank.com, which highlights my writing expertise.
While I still have a bit of work to do on the site, it still gives clients an idea of who I am and what I do.
How Long Until You Make Money?
It’s difficult to say exactly when you’ll make money as a freelance writer. This is mostly because of how many variables come into play. However, some of the systems I use pay out weekly while others send payments every month.
The least I’ve made in a week was about $25. However, I’ve had other weeks where I easily cleared more than $700.
In reality, it took just over a year before I was able to quit my full-time job. However, I also didn’t put as much effort in the beginning as I should have.
For one thing, I was caring for children at the same time while trying to balance out a few side jobs.
You may be able to accomplish this sooner if you put in the effort.
If you use content mills like Textbroker, you could start making money inside the first few days. Of course, you have to wait for the “testing phase,” which could take up to 10 business days or longer.
Personally, I was able to start bringing in money within the first two weeks. But that was back in 2012 when there were fewer writers to critique. Many content mills today are getting bogged down, so it could take up to a month!
If you get a private client, you could start to see a good income almost immediately. However, most private clients want assurance you can handle the task. This often means you need experience or formal education for writing in AP Style.
To be perfectly honest, there are just too many variables that play into when you’ll see a decent amount of money. This is why I suggest keeping a regular job while freelance writing on the side.
Depends on the System
You’ll make money according to the system you use or your contract. For instance, Textbroker will pay out every Friday while Writer Access pays out every month. Fiverr gives you money two weeks after completing a job.
Different systems will also have varying rates. Some will offer $0.014 per word while others can go up to nearly $0.06.
If you go with private clients, how long it takes to see money will depend on your contract and workload. I’ve had clients pay upfront, which is nice. But most will want the work before handing you money.
Depends on Your Workload
The amount of work you do will obviously play a role to make money as a freelance writer. The more you do, the more you’re paid. This is why being productive is vastly important.
When I started Textbroker at $0.01 per word, I was able to make about $12 to $15 per hour because I kept busy and can type more than 60 words per minute.
Of course, that speed is decreased greatly when you take into account proofreading and research.
How Much Money Can You Make Freelance Writing?
The amount of money you can make as a freelance writer is going to depend on a variety of things:
- What content mills do you use for writing?
- Do you have an active marketing strategy for yourself?
- What kind of competition are you facing in your preferred industry or niche?
- Are you able to keep yourself busy?
For someone to guarantee that you’ll make a specific amount per word is ludicrous. There are simply too many variables that will affect how much you make.
But if you want to go by statistics, it’s relatively easy for someone like me to push past a six-figure income every year by focusing on nothing but writing content. This is based on averages from how I make money with content mills and private clients.
According to Content Wonk, the majority of freelance writers earn up to $45 per hour. This depends greatly on recurring work, the types of clients and the amount of time spent writing.
The only reason I don’t make more money is because I spend a lot of time on personal projects. I have three blogs, three YouTube channels and a novel to maintain.
As I bring in enough money to pay for what I need, I have the time to try to grow a few brands.
How I Make Money: What Steps Did I Take?
To help you get an idea about what to expect as a freelance writer, here are the exact steps I took. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience as myself, but this is what I did to become the success I am today.
Step 1: Starting on Textbroker
To start, I signed up with Textbroker. This included a sample article and a five-article review of my abilities. The sign-up process was just under 10 business days, and I was awarded as a 3-Star writer – which is about average.
In the beginning, I had access to the Level 3 order pool, which means I could accept jobs from Level 3 and 2 for $0.01 per word maximum.
However, you can set your personal rate for clients should they contact you through search terms. This means I can charge whatever amount I want per word if a client sends me a direct order.
Because I am a fast typist and good at researching content, I was able to increase my Friday payouts gradually over time.
Step 2: Expanding What Brokerage Systems I Use
There were days when the workload on Textbroker dried up. There were several days in a row when I had literally nothing to write. At this point, I chose to expand what systems I use and signed up with WriterAccess.com.
After moving into other systems, I found that I could keep myself busy by bouncing back and forth from the content mills I use.
I also signed up with Fiverr.com. It’s a decent enough system, but I found I made far more money on Textbroker. This is mostly because the clients on the site expect more content for less money.
I haven’t had a day off from writing because of a lack of work since 2015.
Step 3: Honing Skills and Learning from Editors
Because more jobs were available on Textbroker at 4-Stars, I put in a lot of effort to learn better writing skills. At one point, I had a notebook full of things I needed to work on based on the observations from the system’s editors.
For example, I had a terrible problem with comma usage. After several months, I finally focused my skills to the point where it was growing less of a problem for me.
Step 4: Expanding My Writing Niches
When the work was low in the categories I loved to write, I decided to expand my knowledge. I started accepting jobs from other niches and found I had a knack for more than I had originally thought.
This not only helped bring in more money, but I found I like to write other topics more than the ones with which I started.
Step 5: Quitting My Day Job
Because I expanded myself into nearly all categories in all of the systems I use, I was able to quit my day job. It wasn’t difficult though since the school district was only able to pay me $8.40 per hour as a network technician.
So in 2013, I dropped the regular routine of a 9-to-5 job as I made nearly twice as a freelance writer every week. Of course, I made sure I was able to sustain the income over a period of three months before quitting.
Because if you can’t sustain a good workflow, you could put yourself in financial chaos. What if you quit your job and you didn’t have writing gigs available for a week straight?
Step 6: Practicing on My Own Blogs
Practicing helps hone your skills. What better way to do it than to start a blog or two? I decided I wanted to help others and share what I learned over the years as a freelance writer and how I make money online.
Thus, WriterSanctuary.com was born.
Blogging helps flex the literary muscles while giving me a platform to keep practicing. The last thing I want is to forget what I’ve learned over the years.
Step 7: Marketing on Social Media, Specifically LinkedIn
Content brokerage systems like Textbroker are not the only ways to make money as a freelance writer on the Internet. By expanding into social marketing, such as using LinkedIn, I found my current client.
I am now on retainer to create content for the company website making far more than I had with other content mills.
Don’t get me wrong, content mills are great for beginner freelance writers. However, you’ll make far more money as a freelance writer finding private clients than you ever will on sites like Textbroker.
Get your name out there and network if you want to really make money as a freelance writer.
Step 8: Investing in Upgrades
As time went on, I started to invest some of my money into products to help me work. For instance, I added a second monitor to my computer system. This way, I can keep research open on one screen and write on the other.
I’ve also signed up with an account for Adobe Photoshop. Of course, I would have done this anyway because I use it on a daily basis for my own blogs. However, it’s handy to have for client screenshots.
Recently, I built an entirely new computer system so I can work faster.
And because I use WordPress as my word processor for clients, I’ve bought a few plugins to enhance my abilities. Specifically, I invested in Yoast SEO to help me make money. And the functions of the Pro version are pretty slick.
My point is you can start with the basics and add new things as you go. You’ll undoubtedly come across certain tools and hardware that simplify your jobs as a freelance writer.
Depending on what you buy, you may even claim them on taxes every year as part of your job. This is very helpful as you can get pounded by taxes every April if you don’t financially prepare yourself.
Step 9? Getting Promoted within Your Client’s Company
This is more of an optional thing. But as of May 2019, I became my client’s Content Marketing Team Lead. I don’t write as much as I used to, but I do edit the content from a team of writers.
I am responsible for finding keyphrases, trends and assigning work to my team. And since taking the helm, I’ve grown the tutorial and blog portions of the company site by nearly 100% in the past two months.
Because of my skills and dedication to my client, I also make more money thanks to my new position. In fact, my pay has increased by 50% with the possibility of going up even more in the near future.
This goes to show that if you treat your clients well and demonstrate an incredible ability, you can move up in the company while still retaining freelance writer status.
It Takes a Lot of Work to Make Money and Succeed
While some may be more apt to make a lot of income as a freelancer, others have to put in a great deal of work. I suppose I am somewhere in between. However, it’s been my full-time job for six years, and I’ve grown a lot.
Don’t assume you’ll be able to replace a full-time income when you first start. If you have a day job, make sure you can sustain at least the same amount of pay before you quit.
Otherwise, you may find yourself in financial trouble by not making enough to live.
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